Using iMovie to Explore moral dilemmas

I love using drama techniques in classes. I have found that it really enhances the ability of a class to empathise with a character. Two I particularly like are ‘conscience alley’ and ‘hotseating’ where you can explore a characters motivations, background and moral dilemmas they may face. Here is an idea for a video project using some of the thoughts and discussion arising from analysing the advantages and disadvantages of a particular decision.good-1123013_960_720.jpg

From popular media, students are used to the storytelling device of ‘angels’ whispering advice from the shoulders of the main character when faced with a moral quandary. This kind of decision is often the basis of a conscience alley. Should the main character make the easy choice, which may well benefit them or should they make the ‘right’ choice, which may get them into trouble or cause problems? devil-1013868_960_720.jpg

I love the idea of creating a visual of this, and even better, a video which would explore the conflicting inner thoughts of the character. With iMovie on the iPad, this is possible.

For the example below, I have used Harry Potter as a prompt. Harry is faced with a dilemma in the Goblet of Fire. Hagrid has told him that in the first challenge he will face a dragon. He needs to decide whether he will share this privileged information with Cedric, a fellow student from Hogwarts. The role of ‘Devil’ is taken by James Potter, Harry’s father, who in many ways demonstrates Harry’s competitive (and less sympathetic) side while the ‘Angel’ on Harry’s shoulder is of course his mother, Lily, who was fair, kind and forgiving.

Clearly, this could be applied to any literary character and could be adapted to many different purposes in the classroom.

Create a title page outlining your character’s dilemma

In order to introduce the video, it is a good idea to create a title page explaining the decision that needs to be made. This will mean that if/when the video is shared with parents or included in a portfolio of work, no additional explanation will be required. Try using Adobe Post, Typorama or even PicCollage for this.

Create your background image/movie

The first step towards creating your dilemma movie is to create an image or a movie of the character whose quandary you will be exploring. Ideally, you would like a still image with the character in the centre of the screen.

Film your ‘angels’ giving their advice

For the purpose of this example, I have used  Yakit Kids (a free app which I love using, as written about here) to make Harry’s parents ‘talk’. This could quite easily be done by filming a student speaking, or by using Morfo, Funny Movie Maker, Tellagami or Chatterpix, all of which can make an inanimate object or picture speak.

You should have at least two videos, providing conflicting advice. These can be cut and remixed later, but it is important to have sufficient content.


In iMovie for iOS it is possible to add video on top of an image. These additional options allow: picture in picture; overlay or side by side. For this project we are going to select ‘picture in picture’. To access these options, position the playhead (white vertical line) is at the point in the video you want to add a video clip. Instead of clicking the insert arrow, click on the three dots. This gives you the additional options. With picture in picture, it is possible to position, resize or zoom into your video clip.

We will add our ‘angel’ and ‘devil’ sitting atop either of Harry’s shoulders.

Edit, Refine & Publish!

There is a lot of scope for tinkering at this stage. You may wish to have several arguments for each point of view arranged separately or have each side state their case. You can add background music, transitions or even different background images. Students can be allowed to get creative in order to produce a high quality output. Here is my finished example! I added music from the fantastic @freakyfwoof who has shared a huge catalogue of his creations.

This technique can be used in many different areas of the curriculum and would be an extremely enjoyable and worthwhile activity for students. Adding additional layers of video to an iMovie project can be fiddly at first, but students quickly get the hang of it. Using a tool such as iMovie consistently with students allows them to become masters of it. Once they have a good level of skill, you can give them more ownership over projects and see just how creative they can be.

If you have had a go at this, or have any ideas of how it could be used in class, please let me know by giving me a tweet @theteachgeek or commenting below!


Creative Commons License
This work by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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